Tomorrow, we’ll hear from the majority on the House Natural Resources Committee majority about coal production and valuation in the West’s Powder River Basin region. What you’re not likely to hear, on the other hand, is the truth—that loopholes in the current coal valuation program mean that taxpayers lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Last summer, the Department of the Interior held listening sessions throughout the West and in D.C. where they heard a clear mandate for reform. Hundreds of opinion leaders, elected officials, taxpayer advocates, and members of the public stood up and asked that the coal program be reformed to guarantee Americans a fair share of this publicly held resource. But now, Congress is jumping in, and you can bet they’ll muddle the fight.
Here’s what you’re not likely to hear about from the majority witnesses in tomorrow’s hearing:
In fact, over the summer Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke proposed an amendment that would allow these coal companies to continue cheating Montanans (and all Americans) out of their fair share, and you can sure he’s not done pushing for it. Many Montanans weren’t happy with this action—so we’ll have to see if Rep. Zinke will stand up for his amendment publicly, or whether that business will be conducted quietly behind closed doors.
With a potential government shutdown looming this week, the House majority is already going after commonsense public health protections in their version of how to fund our government for the next year. It’s crazy that in addition to that, they’re fighting to preserve loopholes for the coal industry while denying everyday Americans money that rightfully belongs to taxpayers.
So keep an eye on tomorrow’s hearing with those things in mind—because it’s time that American taxpayers got their fair share from coal extraction on their public lands.